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The illegal possession of land by top politicians, bureaucrats and police officers of Punjab in the periphery of Chandigarh will now be investigated by a tribunal. While issuing the directions on Tuesday, the Punjab and Haryana high court set a four-month deadline for the tribunal to complete the probe and submit a report.

The three-member tribunal will be headed by Justice Kuldeep Singh, who is a retired Supreme Court judge.

More than 60 VIPs, including chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and DGP Sumedh Singh Saini, allegedly possess government/public land in violation of the periphery and forest Acts which prohibit the sale of village common land and forest land.

The high court directed the Punjab government to provide necessary infrastructure and staff for the tribunal in two weeks. The tribunal would examine all records and, if required, may seek additional time to complete the probe. Initially, the tribunal proposed to probe illegal possessions of village common land/forest land by the high-ups, but later the HC clubbed all pending cases and expanded the scope to bring illegal possession of land in the state under its purview.

On May 17, Punjab chief secretary submitted a report before the court, giving a clean chit to the chief minister and the DGP, including 53 persons having land in the periphery. Not satisfied with reply, the high court initiated the process of setting up of a tribunal.

The matter had reached before the HC when Nayagaon resident Kuldip Singh filed a writ petition in 2007, alleging land grabbing by VIPs. Initially, the inquiry was conducted by then DGP-rank officer Chander Shekhar, who superannuated on November 11, 2011. Thereafter, a committee, under the supervision of chief secretary Punjab, is monitoring the issue.

The probe conducted by Shekhar revealed that high-ups had constructed illegally on more than 170 acres of forest land around Chandigarh.

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